Monday, March 10, 2014

Teddy Buckner at the Plaza Gardens

Today's photos are from the early 1970's, and feature an act that played Disneyland for many years… Teddy Buckner and his band!

Buckner was considered a "Louis Armstrong devotee", and became world famous for his New Orleans-style jazz. As a child an uncle taught him to handle drumsticks and play the ukulele, and he studied trumpet with Harold Scott (from Louis Armstrong's orchestra). From as early as 15 years old, he began playing with a variety of jazz ensembles. 

At first I just assumed that these photos were taken over at the Plaza Gardens, but it doesn't really look like that location to me (doesn't that have a wall behind it instead of an open back, and a different ceiling?). Maybe I'm wrong. Any ideas?

According to, "…Buckner appeared in a number of motion pictures during the 1930's and '40s. Most famously he stood in for Louis Armstrong in "Pennies from Heaven" and appeared with Fats Waller in "King of Burlesque". In addition to his movie roles, he played with many jazz & big band legends, such as Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Johnny Otis, and Kid Ory. 

Walt Disney was friendly with Jack Webb (of "Dragnet" fame), and Teddy Buckner was seen and heard in Webb's 1954 film "Pete Kelly's Blues". Coincidence? For more than 25 years, Teddy Buckner's jazz band played to enthusiastic crowds at nightclubs in Los Angeles. "He enjoyed a lengthy run of employment as leader of a Dixieland band at Disneyland from 1965 - 1981 and passed away in Los Angeles on September 22, 1994". (I should add that Mr. X is certain that he saw the band playing at the French Market in 1982).

I asked Mr. X for some personal recollections of his impressions of Teddy Buckner and his band. Here's what he said: "I used to listen to Buckner several nights a week during the summer season, 1972 and 1973 especially. He had a beautiful crystal clear tone, though not as round or as big as Louis Armstrong's sound. Most importantly, his musical performance always swung. It was classical New Orleans Dixieland. In fact, his sound alone, even without his solos, was reason enough to hear Buckner play". Wow, that must have been so much fun!

I hope you have enjoyed these photos of Teddy Buckner.


Nanook said...


The stage is at the "back" of the French Market outdoor patio. I'm certain you know it.

Thanks for sharing the musical memories.

TokyoMagic! said...

And did you know that that stage at the French Market raises and lowers from underground? (Not the entire bandstand like the one at Tomorrowland Terrace, but the stage itself does.)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I sure don't! I've never eaten there or watched a band play. But thanks for the info.

TokyoMagic! really? I'm surprised I haven't heard about that before. That's kind of cool.

Melissa said...

As always, absolutely gorgeous pictures! The light really pops off those striped jackets and the brass of the horns, making them jump out of the dark background. I can practically hear the drums and feel the cool night breeze.

Man, I wish I’d been able to see them live! I know predictability is one of the things people pay for when investing a big chunk of change in a Disney vacation, but a lot of the jazz one hears in a Disney park these days is a little on the tame side.

Jack Webb and Walt Disney palling around, huh? I’m imagining them as the dour and playful sides of the same clean-cut, meat-and-potatoes, All-American coin. What a buddy movie that would make!

Chuck said...


Excuse me - I'll be going to see my therapist, now.

Anonymous said...

@Nanook & Tokyo:

Agree, this is definitely at the French Market. This stage was movable, retracting below ground between shows and during the day. I remember how amazing it was to see the platform rising with all the instruments in place. No muss or fuss of carrying gear across a crowded patio.

This restaurant was my Dad's favorite at Disneyland. We had dinner there almost every trip.

We would time the meal so we could eat while this band played. Mom and Dad loved this music. My first experience with jazz and I love Dixieland to this day.

I remember the band had a board with the players names, but cannot recall them. But these are definitely the guys. A welcome reminder. I will now remember Mr. Buckner.

Thank you for a glimpse of good times and memories, Major.


Anonymous said...

Teddy was certainly a devotee of Louis Armstrong...and had the same 'gravelly' singing voice and mannerisms. Always enjoyed hearing him while a CM for most of the 70s.

Nancy said...

Such a nice set today. Thanks to Mr. X as well for sharing with us.

I think that seeing music performances is one of the best things to do there, a nice way to relax and realize how much fun Disneyland can be for any age!

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I wish I had an outfit like that to wear at "Dapper Day". Mr. X loved hearing Teddy Buckner, but his said that even a great player like TB would sometimes get into kind of a rut with his solos. Still, I'll bet he was amazing.

Chuck… er, OK, we have diagnosed the screaming, but I don't know why you are screaming about dioramas.

JG, I have a "Dixieland at Disneyland" flyer signed by all of the members of Teddy Buckner's band, probably from a few years before these photos. I'll have to scan it and post it here.

Anonymous, I think I read that TB actually played Satchmo in one of the movies he appeared in.

Nancy, from what I've heard, Disneyland has a lot more live music than WDW, but I don't know from personal experience.

Dave said...

Now I can't get Jack Webb at Disneyland out my head. "This is the city, Anaheim California, my friend Walt has built some sort of 'amusement park', Gannon and I are here to check it out and make sure it stays free of hooligans and hippies".

Anonymous said...

I had been looking for a Photo of the clarinet player Caughey Roberts for a while now. Teddy and Caughey was in Buck Clayton orchestra that went to China in 1934.

Does anyone know the name of the other two musicians?

Raul Moreno said...

Yes,Webb and Walt were very good friends.When Walt needed some extra funds to help build Disneyland,he rented Stage 2 in Burbank to Webb for Dragnet from 1952-May 1955.They got kicked out for something called the Mickey Mouse Club.Webb's daughter told me they would go to Disneyland a lot growing up.While the kids were on rides,Jack would sit on the benches and smoke!

Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel said...

Teddy was a very close friend of my stepdad, Jack Martin, leader of the Pearly Band from the mid sixties until around 1980. Besides Teddy, the other members includes: pianist, Chester Laine; drummer, Jesse Sales; bassist, Art ?;; trombonist, Streamline, and I don't remember the clarinetist. In the 70's, he was replaced by Chuck Thomas. A lady named Cathy Griggs sang with the band for many years.

Teddy's real name was John Edward Buckner. He was in many movies including King Creole and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. He played trumpet on the Elvis hits, Trouble and Hard Headed Woman.